A Glimpse into an Eocene Lost world

Isn´t it amazing to think that 35 million years ago, long before the sabertooth cats (or any true cat for that matter) ever evolved, there was such a specialized sabertoothed carnivore as Hoplophoneus mentalis?. This creature was about the size of a large lynx but it specialized in taking prey larger than itself, which it killed by a devastatingly efficient bite to the throat. But rhino-sized animals like Megacerops, shown in the background, had nothing to fear from this cat-like predator.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At a first glance (and even at a second and third) the skull of Hoplophoneus mentalis is so similar to that of true sabertooth cats like Megantereon, which lived more than 30 million years later, that you would be excused for taking it for a real cat, even for a direct ancestor of such younger species. In fact, the best heads of paleontology were such deceived for many decades until the detailed study of obscure anatomical features, such as the structure of the ear region of the skull, revealed the true affinities of those cat-like carnivores, which are now classified in an independent family: the Nimravidae.
hoplophoneus-mentalis-head

The late Eocene of North America, nimravids included, is one of the most amazing “Lost Worlds” discovered by paleontology. Read more about it in my book “Sabertooth”!

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Posted on 18/01/2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Joseph Sullivan

    Thank you for the info. I’m enjoying this greatly.

  2. Thank you for all the info you and many off your readers provide. This is one of my favorite scenes. Do you or have you ever done any thylacoleo images

  1. Pingback: Fossil Friday Roundup: January 20, 2017 | PLOS Blogs Network

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